Pizza Sauce Vs Marinara Sauce: What’s The Difference?

Pizza Sauce Vs Marinara Sauce

There’s no denying that pizza sauce and marinara sauce provides an increased sense of satisfaction in food taste. Indeed, both these two types of sauces have earned a reputation for their rich flavors and enticing aromas.

However, their similarities make it difficult for many people to distinguish between these two.

If you also keep this concern in mind, do not skip our article. The below sections will put together some basic knowledge to help you distinguish them easily. Continue reading to get your mind across.

Quick Facts

Pizza sauce:

  • Consistency: lighter
  • Flavor: less robust
  • Cooking process: using raw ingredients.
  • Purpose: use for pizza only

Marinara sauce:

  • Consistency: thicker
  • Flavor: more robust 
  • Cooking process: uses cooked ingredients 
  • Purpose: versatile

The Origins Of Marinara

The origin of this is a bit of a mystery, but many people assume it was created in the southern region of Italy. Probably, it could have first appeared by the 16th century because the tomato was introduced to Europe around the same time. Rumor has it that marinara was named for Italian sailors. 

They sailed on ships that brought goods from all over the world to Italy. Since sailors were stranded on ships for months, they needed food that was simple to prepare. It was not without reason that this thick liquid was their favorite dish because the main ingredients are resistant to spoilage and remain fresh enough for sailors to use while onboard.

Another famous story, the marinara sauce, was the meal sailors’ wives would prepare when their husbands returned to land. When seeing the upcoming train, the wives just had enough time to boil pasta and cook a healthy fresh sauce for their returning husbands.

The Origins of Pizza Sauce

Legend has it that this thick liquid originated in the poor countryside in Naples. In the early 1500s, tomatoes were introduced from the New World to Europe. Instead of receiving a warm welcome in its new home, it was greeted with utter disdain and fear. 

However, the poor Neapolitans, having only olive oil, flour, cheese, and lard in their meager pantries, reluctantly added tomatoes to their recipes. That gave the world the first basic tomato pizza sauce. 

During the last years of the 19th century, it was so famous that the King and Queen of Italy even summoned the most famous pizzas to their palaces to enjoy their taste. From this point on, there is no doubt that Naples has risen above the rest when it comes to pizza. After about a century has passed, eating pizza has become a “must-do” activity for visitors to Naples.

When To Use Which?

When it comes to versatility, the marinara sauce has the edge over pizza sauce.

Many experienced cooks consider making pizza unique and personal; therefore, they will likely design their recipes specifically for their pizza. While pizza sauce is created for only pizza, the marinara is used versatilely. 

You can use marinara when having pasta, dip, and pizzas as well. Moreover, it is also an excellent option for seafood, vegetables, or any grain you want. You can easily spice it up a bit with some red pepper flakes to increase its flavor. With marinara, you can use it whenever you want.

Can You Substitute Between These Two?

Yes, you can. However, it is not denied that this will result in a slight change in taste. 

Using marinara sauce on your pizza, you’ll end up with a pizza that’s richer in flavor, less sweet, and has a lot more herbal flavor. In addition, the slow cooking process for marinara makes for a much more complex recipe, and this additional flavor is evident from the first bite. 

However, in many official Italian kitchens, they tend to make their sauce for pizza separate from their marinara. The reason is that Pizza making is very personal and unique to each restaurant, so they wanted to design their recipe specifically for their pizza.

In some cases, marinara is not a suitable substitute. For instance, using it on a very soft pizza can also be rancid, as the liquid consistency can be drawn into the dough and make it difficult to taste. On the other hand, a crispier pizza will not soak up as much sauce and will taste better with a marinara.

How Do You Thicken Marinara Sauce For Pizza?

There are many simple ways to thicken it for your pizza at home – without the need for fancy tools and methods.

Drain the water

When you prepare the pizza, you should drain the excess water from the sauce before adding the other ingredients. For example, tinned tomatoes may have some water that you don’t need. This process is a crucial step.

Simmer it

Simmering is also another option for you to thicken the marinara for pizza. The excess water will evaporate, leaving a thick liquid. One downside to simmering, however, is that you may lose the freshness of it. 

In addition, cooking for a long time also reduces the nutritional value of your tomatoes. Therefore, keep in mind to simmer your sauce on low heat.

Add more ingredients


Roux is a mixture of fat and flour that is used readily in soups or sauces to thicken. Experienced chefs use a roux to thicken pizza sauces. You will get a greasy texture on the pizza due to the fat in the roux. The longer you cook the roux, the more its flavor will develop.


Not only being used for baking and slathering on bread, but butter is also your preferred choice for thickening your marinara sauce. You will need a substantial amount of butter to achieve the desired consistency. 

Usually, a cup of tomato sauce will require a cup of butter. Melt the butter and stir it to form a smooth paste. Then, add the butter mixture to the tomato sauce and mix well.

Is Hearty Marinara Sauce Spicy?

The hearty marinara sauce doesn’t taste spicy at all. This sauce contains ripe Italian tomatoes, rich olive oil, and a hint of salty garlic. Hence, it is the best choice for someone who tends to eat less spicy foods. 

With its fatty and thick flavor, you should never sense a spicy and garlicky taste. The more sauce that coats the pizza, the more you will want to eat.

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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